Two Michigan cases among 29 Innocence Network exonerations

Two Michigan cases are featured in the 2010 Innocence Network’s exoneration report.

The Innocence Network, with 54 member organizations in the United States and nine others in four foreign countries, reports on 29 people who were exonerated of crimes for which they had been convicted and were serving prison terms.

From the network’s report:

Dwayne Provience
Michigan Innocence Clinic

The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office dropped all charges against Dwayne Provience for a 2000 killing after it was revealed that crucial evidence in the case had been withheld during trial.

Provience spent nine years in prison.

The prosecution’s only evidence against Provience was the testimony of a substance abuser facing burglary charges. The witness claimed that Provience and his brother killed the victim in a drive-by shooting from Provience’s brother’s beige Buick Regal.

However, seven motorists, including an off-duty police officer, gave eyewitness accounts that the shooter was in a grey Chevy Caprice Classic. Provience’s attorney, who was disbarred shortly after the trial, never called any of these eyewitnesses who would have contradicted the prosecution’s theory. Provience was convicted and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison.

After taking the case, Provience’s attorneys at the Michigan Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School discovered that another witness to the killing had himself been murdered.

A hit man confessed to a government agent that he had killed the witness to stop him from revealing the true identities of the perpetrators in the drive-by shooting.

Provience’s attorneys subsequently discovered a trove of suppressed police documents showing that at least three witnesses had seen two men in the grey Chevy Caprice Classic, as well as documents proving one of those men owned such a car.

Finally, the substance abuser who identified Provience recanted his testimony.

Provience was released on bond in 2009 and officially exonerated on March 24, 2010.


Julie Baumer
Michigan Innocence Clinic

Julie Baumer served four years of a 10- to 15-year sentence for allegedly causing serious brain injury to her infant nephew.

She was convicted of first-degree child abuse in September 2005 based on the prosecution’s assertion that she had violently shaken the six year old, leaving him blind and impaired.

At Baumer’s trial, one doctor testified that the child had suffered blunt force trauma.

Another doctor attributed the child’s skull fracture to birth complications, but hypothesized that he had been violently shaken.

Despite the lack of external signs of abuse, Baumer was found guilty. Her trial attorney never hired an expert who could read the scans of the baby’s brain.

Baumer was granted a new trial and released from prison in 2009 after the scans were sent to outside radiologists who confirmed to a medical certainty that the baby suffered from venous sinus thrombosis, a form of childhood stroke, and not from child abuse.

Six defense experts testified pro bono at Baumer’s retrial. She was finally cleared on October 15, 2010, when a Michigan jury acquitted her of all charges.

The Michigan Innocence Clinic successfully defended the trial judge’s decision to grant a new trial on appeal to the Michigan appellate courts and served as co-counsel at the retrial.

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